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                                     OCEANS ABOVE AND BELOW
25 years of photography, sailing & Scuba diving around the world.
                                          A Memoir by Ed Vaughan

VOYAGE OF THE QING DAO a.k.a. "Tears of the Foreigner"

Why Sail to Hong Kong? | A Look at Hong Kong | Hong Kong Night Markets | Voyage of the Qing Dao

yacht Qing Dao under sail

Here is the Qing Dao, pronounced "Ching Dow", the first Chinese sailing yacht to be officially registered and sailed in China.

She is seen here on the Pearl River in the city of Guanzhou, 50 miles up river from the sea.

October 7, 2005:
Virtually none of the 1.3 billion people in this country has ever heard of or imagined traveling aboard a boat like this...until today.

The last sail powered boat to visit this city did so 1200 years ago.

captain guo chuan

Pictured here is the captain, Guo Chuan

first mate guo young

and his first mate, Guo Young.

chinese yachting advisor sam guo

Here is yachting advisor Mr. Sam Guo


TEARS OF THE FOREIGNER


By

Edward E. Vaughan

(This article was published in newspapers all over China.)

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On October 5th 2005, I had the honor, indeed the great honor, to sail aboard the first Chinese officially registered sailboat in the history of the country. She was launched to promote keelboat sailing in China.

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The boat, called Quing Dao, named after the lovely northern Chinese city, is a Hunter 466, built in, of all places, America.

Here in China they tell me it brings good luck to involve a foreigner in new events, so I guess that's why I was invited.

The new 46 foot sloop, which had visited 5 cities down the East coast of the country during the preceding two months, had a commercial sponsor. That sponsor is Haier Home Appliance Company, the fourth largest such company in the world. At every stop, Haier graciously created an "Event" out of the boats arrival and departure. With flags, balloons, speeches and music, each stop was transformed into a small Welcome Festival.

There was also a government sponsor. That was the Sailing Committee for the games of the XXIX Olympiad headed by Mr. Lao Dai the Olympic Sailing Committee advisor.

Speaking excellent English, which was a great help to me, members of the Olympic Committee hosted the crew in each stop and created a sort of "Handshake" between the 5 cities down the coast and the city of Quing Dao. Again, each ceremony included music, dancing, speeches and food as rich and delicious as I have ever tasted.

As a long time sailor, I was impressed with the captain and crew. The Captain, Guo Chuan, 40 is hugely qualified to be skipper. He has had a love of the sea all of his life and has made sailing his business for as long as he can remember. Guo is a sailing "Top Gun" with heart. He is clearly a man of great integrity and a natural diplomat.

Crewman Gao Young is an excellent First Mate and obviously loves his work. He is knowledgeable and works the boat with total concentration. I was in good hands here.

first mate guo young
yacht Qing Dao under sail
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Mr. Sam Guo, the acquaintance who had invited me to the boat, has 30 years of sailing experience in virtually all of the world's oceans. He was asked to join the boat from the start in Quing Dao on August 12th 2005 as a sort of yachting advisor.

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I took a train from Hong Kong and met the boat in the city in China that used to be called Canton. Now, it is called Guangzhou. It is located up the Tsu Jiang, the Pearl River, 50 miles from the sea.

There is a monument on the riverbank in Guangzhou dedicated to the last sailing vessel to visit that city. That vessel was an Arab dhow which sailed in, did a bit of trading and sailed out…..1200 years ago.

Our route, two days from my arrival date, was to take us down the the Tzu Chiang, around the more than 200 islands of Hong Kong and up into Chinese territory to a new, elegant and well appointed marina called Longcheer. Logcheer is about one hour out of Schenzhen, a huge, relatively new, city about 50 miles from Hong Kong.

This would be my first visit to Mainland China, I keep my boat in Hong Kong, and I was impressed by the warmth and openness of the people on the Mainland. In Hong Kong, everyone seems to be saying, "What do you want to buy?". In China, everyone seemed to be saying, "Welcome to our country, we are happy to have you here". I loved their warmth.

captain guo chuan
bridge in china
yacht Qing Dao under sail on river in p. r. china
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There were two events which stand out in my mind as I look back at my week aboard the Quing Dao.

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First, on my second day, with the boat still tied to the dock, I was below preparing for our departure, and Guo, the skipper called down to me from the cockpit and said, "Ed, there are some people out here to talk to you, come on up". So, I climbed out of the companionway to find a large group of Chinese newspaper and television reporters, about 20 people, confronting me. Guo said, "They want to interview you, go ahead, I'll translate". Suddenly, a video camera was thrust into my face and a voice from behind it said in English, "Take off your hat please for better lighting" I removed my hat. I felt naked.

A woman stuck a microphone in my face and said, "Why do you like sailing?" I blurted, "Because it's fun!" Guo translated into Mandarin. My five year old grandson had just recently asked me the same question, so I felt prepared with the "Fun" answer.

I began to feel tears well up in my eyes. I didn't have time to think about why. Then, the reporter moved the mike closer to my face and said, "Tell us exactly what it means to you to sail". I began to cry uncontrollably now. I saw the last 25 years of my life pass before me as I searched for an answer. Here I was, on the other side of the world, attempting to explain why I have done what I have done for so long.

sailing yacht qing-dao ceremony-in-beautiful-marina-in- p.r. china
chinese sailing yacht qing-dao-yacht big-ceremony
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My life was colliding with history. Here was my chance to tell millions of people why I sail.

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Attempting to appear in control of my self, which I was not, I told the reporter that I had worked for 30 years and upon retiring, wanted to stay active, to learn something about the world, to stay healthy and to live my life to the fullest, and that sailing does all that for me. Also, I felt that finally, I had arrived at the right place at the right time for the first time in my life. My tears, if they could have spoken, would have said, "China has opened the door to sailing and this is just the beginning of something that, in some small way, will improve our world and bring us all closer together", but I simply wept.

Eventually, I regained my composure. I tried to pretend the sun was in my eyes. I don't think anyone was fooled.

I do not remember the rest of the interview. Everyone was very polite and thanked me and we were off on our trip downriver before I had time to think about what had happened.

Had I cried in front of one billion people? Well, probably not everyone was watching TV that night.

chinese-sailing-yacht-qing-dao-closeup

The other incident which stands out in my mind was the 50 mile sail down the Tsu Chiang.

I come from Los Angeles, California where there is a huge port called The Port of San Pedro.

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All my life I have compared the ports I visit to San Pedro. No port is as large and dynamic as my home port.

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After the 50 miles down the Tsu Chiang from Guangzhou, I have been humbled. There was more activity and commerce, huge ships arriving and sailing out, bridges being built, construction work on land , than I had ever seen before. The banks of the river are lined with huge container terminals and construction sites for 30 miles. Mile after mile there are huge cities growing up on both sides of the river as if millions of people are suddenly relocating to this area from the interior. The dragon is not awakening, it has awakened.

The Port of San Pedro is now smaller in my memory.

The rest of the 24 hour trip to Longcheer was smooth and enjoyable with excellent weather and fine sailing conditions. There is nothing quite as enjoyable as a smooth sailing trip in good company.

China is booming and now she is sailing. It was wonderful to be a witness to her first official passage. No, not just wonderful, through my tears, I humbly repeat, it was a great honor.

site navigation compass rose Let's Get Back t' the TOP o' This Page wi' ya, Matey Let's Be Gettin' ya Back t' HOME Port, Matey Let's be Movin' On to the Next Port You're not THAT lucky.

A Memoir by Ed Vaughan

25 years of photography, sailing & SCUBA diving around the world.


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©2017 Ed Vaughan

This website is dedicated to Barry M. Snewin who was my good friend and diving instructor.

Last modified: July 28 2017 14:59:28.